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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tuesday, May 17th . . . the Terra Plana Ultra test . .

I decided to do a short 30 minute run this morning before my track session tonight. For the first time, I laced up the Terra Plana Ultra's and did my first run in them and it was wonderful. Terra continues to get closer and closer to the ultimate running shoe. The Ultra is freakishly light and even lighter than the MWU3 once you remove the plug-in sock liner. This was closest to barefoot I've run next to the KSO. I ran on hard surface and trails and it was enjoyable. I admit this was just a first run so I'll have many follow-up observations but they felt great and I threw in several race pace surges.

As is always the case, my stride slightly shortened as compared to my Nike XC racing shoes, and unlike racing shoes, the Ultra will immediately punish you for bad form and immediate feedback is most desirable as opposed to a shoe allowing for bad form over an extended period of time until the ugly injury monster appears. To test it, I put a little pressure on my heel while walking in the Ultra's and you would most definitely feel a heel strike, and it would hurt. This is exactly what I like because when you are in your natural state (barefoot), a heel strike hurts so why should that change in shoes? Shoes should not promote or enable bad form but that's exactly what 99.9% of running shoes allow.

So let's get down to the nitty gritty details.

Weight. The Ultra is unbelievably light weighing in at 3 oz. as there is no insole. The difference in weight between the Evo and Ultra is dramatic! I weighted my Ultra at 3 oz. vs. close to 10 oz. in the Evo (more than 3x) . . . again, the difference is dramatic and only the MWU3 comes close. I ran without the plug-in sock because it was pretty warm this morning but I could see using it in the winter with a warm sock if needed.

Upper (no blister world). What sets this apart from the Evo is the upper and lining as the Ultra is a simple EVO with neoprene sock lining and the Evo uses a nylon mesh with microfiber which is what I believe causes the blisters I can get in Evo's.. Even if the Ultra toes your toes, it too soft and flexible to cause any issues.

Sole. The Ultra provides 6mm of protection vs. the Evo at 4mm, however, I can't feel any difference in ground feel. The Ultra provides excellent ground feel.

Performance. There's a noticeable difference in energy return in the Ultra vs. the Evo and even the KSO. Due to the light weight and minimal sole, I had more energy coming from my feet and the uncoiling of my Achilles tendon and some of that energy return felt blocked in the Evo and obviously more is lost in traditional running shoes, and I attribute this to the weight of the Evo.

Fit. I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to get a tight/close fit but I was with the lock lacing system. I hope that continues but for this run, it was nice and locked in perfectly.

I will be taking the Ultra's for speed work tonight and I'll report back. I have to say I'm very impressed with the Ultra but again, I'll need to put more miles on them.


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